Traditional cool burning

Cultural Connections

Traditional cool burning

Cultural Connections

Building our Future -


The issue

Local landholders identified a need to learn about traditional aboriginal land management using cool burns. Many local landholders are volunteers of the rural fire service, but felt that their knowledge on cool burns was limited and that it was very important to learn more about the observational skills and methods of cool burns. Landholders wanted to set up a trail plot to learn about the impacts of cool burns of species diversity and abundance. 

The solution

We engaged Ngunawal Elder, Wally Bell, to demonstration a traditional cool burn and teach landholders about the role of cool burns in land management and caring for the country. 

The impact

The workshops increased understanding and adoption of traditional burning practices whilst exploring what contemporary fire management can learn from traditional fire management. The workshops resulted in both ecological restoration and reconciliation outcomes.


For thousands of years fire was used for a range of purposes (e.g. to manage bush tucker and clean Country) by a diversity of people throughout Australia. Fire connected people to Country; fire was used to care for Country, and Country told you when to burn. To Aboriginal experts, the country reveals when it is appropriate to use fire: indicators such as when trees flower and native grasses cure. These low-intensity fires have several benefits including that the fire extinguishes straight after it burns the grass and that the animals have enough time to escape. Burning, using cool fire methods, is done strategically so that fresh grass was maintained in key areas and shurbs and herb patches, which were harvested each year, were vigorous. 

Key facts

  • 25 landholders with increased skills to conduct cool burns
  • 12 local RFS with increased skills and knowledge to conduct cool burns
  • 2ha treated with cool burn management and vegwatch surveys

Project Partners